ATHENS — Westover High School graduate Mike Matre started his Matre Forestry Consulting Inc. business in 1999 after earning a Forestry degree from the University of Georgia. And while he attained a comfortable enough measure of success as a start-up, it wasn’t until, ironically, the Great Recession started taking hold and he added Real Estate brokerage to his job description that Matre Forestry Consulting took off.

This week, the University of Georgia Alumni Association recognized Matre’s growing company by naming it to UGA’s annual list of 100 fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by alumni.

The association said in releasing the business names that more than 530 nominations were submitted for includsion on the 2020 list.

“I know (the alumni association) tries to get people from different schools at the college, and I was an alumni of the Forestry School,” Matre said. “We do full-service forestry consultation and land brokerage, a combination that’s helped me expand my business.”

Matre returned home to Albany after completing his education at UGA and started his forestry consulting business in 1999. He said the work was “steady” for a number of years, but it was when he added Real Estate brokerage of farm, timber and hunting land that his business took off.

“I’ve always enjoyed forestry, and it seemed natural to add land brokerage for timber and land sales and timber appraisal,” Matre said. “What separates us from other companies is that in addition to being a land broker, I’m a registered forester. That’s a whole extra skill set that I bring to the table.”

During the Great Recession that took hold around 2008 and continued for the better part of the next five to six years, investors started looking for alternative investments. Land — including farmland, timberland and recreational hunting land — became a hot commodity. Matre’s multiple skill sets opened the door for new clients looking to add — or, in some cases, subtract — from their portfolio.

“There are a good bit of transactions going on in this specialty, especially the recreational or hunting market, smaller parcels of less than 500 acres,” Matre said. “It’s like when someone buys a new boat, and after a while it just stays parked. People will buy hunting land, and their kids might go off to college, and one day it dawns on them that they own this land that isn’t being used. That’s when they list their property with someone like me.

“And even though it can sometimes be a busy market, it’s sometimes quite an endeavor to sell rural acreage.”

Matre joins an impressive list of business owners/operators with ties to UGA. The 2020 Bulldog 100 includes businesses of all sizes and from industries such as technology, cosmetics, entertainment and education. Companies are based as far north as Virginia and as far west as Nevada. Of the 100 businesses, 84 are located within Georgia.

Applicants were measured by their business’s compounded annual growth rate during a three-year period, according to the UGA Alumni Association. The Atlanta office of Warren Averett CPAs and Advisors, a Bulldog 100 partner since the program began in 2009, verified the information submitted by each company.

The UGA Alumni Association will host the annual Bulldog 100 Celebration in Athens Feb. 8 to celebrate these alumni business leaders and count down the ranked list to ultimately reveal the No. 1 fastest-growing business.

“Hosting this year’s Bulldog 100 Celebration in Athens will bring these bright entrepreneurs back to campus to experience how it has grown since their days at UGA,” Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of the UGA Alumni Association, said. “We’re excited for the opportunity for these industry leaders to connect with students and share their advice and expertise.”

To view the alphabetical list of businesses and to learn more about the Bulldog 100, see www.alumni.uga.edu/b100.

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